Verizon's Asia foray puts Telstra in its sights

AMERICA'S largest telco, Verizon, is making a stronger push for small and mid-sized business customers through the Asian region in a move that will see it competing head-to-head with Australian providers such as Telstra.

AMERICA'S largest telco, Verizon, is making a stronger push for small and mid-sized business customers through the Asian region in a move that will see it competing head-to-head with Australian providers such as Telstra.

Verizon has "significant plans" for its secure internet and cloud computing products around the region after a company restructure earlier this year. While it is not targeting Australia specifically, it wants more business through the region as part of a global marketing drive.

Even so, the growth of Australia's services sector makes local companies a target, Verizon's chief marketing officer, John Harrobin, said.

"We believe that we are positioned to be one of the handful of players worldwide that can serve the mission-critical needs of enterprise customers," he said at Verizon's annual Asia-Pacific media forum.

The move into the region puts Verizon in direct competition with Telstra, which wants its international arm to sell more global data and telecommunications services to companies with offices around Asia.

Telstra owns an under-sea cable network in the Asia-Pacific region and Hong Kong mobile company CSL New World Mobility Group.

Telstra's chief executive, David Thodey, recently cited expansion into Asia and more multi-national corporate clients as a key strategic priority for Telstra in 2013. However, he admitted Telstra was not going after the largest companies because it was still too small.

Mr Harrobin noted that Telstra still lacked infrastructure in key growth areas in Asia.

"Telstra has done a remarkable job with respect to building a company within Australia and [has] very laudable plans to deploy globally as well.

"But when you look at where the opportunities are and the assets that are required to serve them . . . if I were to compare their asset base with other asset bases, I would probably conclude it would be harder for them to expand globally without certain partnerships."

Verizon already provides telecommunications for some Australian government departments and to companies in the financial services, mining and manufacturing industries. It is not only targeting global companies, but would happily provide cloud-computing services to medium-sized companies that only have Australian operations, Mr Harrobin said.

IT services were moving from a premise-based service to a cloud-based service and this would be a huge disruption in the sector, he added. "It is in this discontinuity for Verizon to reposition itself in the market place and capture additional value."

Verizon merged its global wireless and global wholesale, enterprise and government divisions earlier this year to create Verizon Enterprise Solutions. This arm contributes about a quarter of Verizon's annual revenue, which reached $US110 billion ($105 billion) last year.

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